So far, complaints against the Kremlin have come to nothing. But now Washington is going a step further, for two reasons.
Usually these things are done, not said. Putin teaches us how: he doesn’t claim responsibility for the cyberattacks, not even after the fact. So why does Obama (through Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke to NBC) want to make it known that America will react to the attacks by Russian hackers? The explanations are twofold: one involves international strategy and the other involves domestic politics.
In terms of U.S.-Russia relations, now almost as tense as during the Cold War – especially after the failure of the ceasefire in Syria — Obama believes that Moscow is indifferent to verbal warnings.
For some time, the American president has denounced the unscrupulous attacks by Russian hackers and has warned the enemy that America has the tools to react. The effect: zero. The attacks continue; in fact, they have intensified during the course of the presidential election campaign with blatant interference in favor of Donald Trump. Russian hackers, often using Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as their final mail carrier, are only targeting the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. With an announcement about retaliation, the Obama administration wants to signal that an unacceptable threshold has been crossed.
In domestic politics, this move serves to place the “Manchurian candidate,” which is Trump, (even further) into a corner. The more the Cold War-like climate worsens, the clearer it becomes the fault of a pro-Russian Republican. The behavior of a traitor is established, someone who is in league with the enemy. The American right has committed many a foul deed in the past, but plotting with the Russians was never one of its vices.
In short, this confirms the truly abnormal character of the 2016 presidential election. Never before has there been an election cycle marked by similar foreign interference. It even pales in comparison to the events surrounding the Iranian hostages when Iran helped Ronald Reagan get elected over Jimmy Carter in 1980. This affair is also a sad epilogue to the WikiLeaks parable. As for Trump’s background and his vocation, to end up as a docile instrument in the hands of the former head of the KGB is not exactly inspiring.